Wednesday, 29 October 2014

A momentous moment

I have just finished the editing and proofing of my first children's book and I have only the final illustration to complete for my second book. It seems all too quiet for such a huge event (to me). I am going to make some noise.....

Monday, 27 October 2014

Let's write this novel together

I’d like to write a novel with you. The novel is called ‘Memories Made’ and I have written Chapter One. I'd like you to influence the rest of the book - the direction of the characters and the story - and I will write (chapter by chapter) based on your input. I will then post each Chapter as it's completed.

Are you game?
If you are, then follow me on twitter @vrheal_author and we can start on Chapter Two...

Read Memories Made, Chapter One

Sunday, 26 October 2014

Memories Made, Chapter One

By V R Heal

As I opened the front door I don’t know who I thought had rung the bell, I had just blindly walked down the hall and turned the latch. Was it shock that I felt when I saw my visitor or was it pure joy? Did the fear come straight away or did it creep in just too late?

My heart skipped a beat, several beats. My breaths faltered and my stomach leapt as I inwardly cried out, only silenced by the dry tightening of my throat and chest. I was frozen. My legs had lost all feeling and I felt faint. How was he here?

The right words never come when you want, on your tongue or in your head. You want to skip forward to script the perfect reaction, cool calm and collected.

"Oh", was the word that came out of my mouth.

An anticlimax to the intensity and magnitude of this moment, but nonetheless that was it. My reaction to a ghost of the past: the past that had shaped my future; the past that I had yearned for, re-lived, dreamt of; the past that had somehow found me; and the past that now stood in front of me.

"Hello Sarah."

Almost sixteen years ago, sixteen lost years ago, entranced, enthralled and wrapped in the magic of a young senseless freedom, I stood on the sands of time watching the sunshine illuminate the ocean. An island, a beginning, a love imploded and a death divided.

I was beautiful then, my legs didn't end and my hips curved into my flat bronzed stomach. I covered my limbs and let my dresses drape my willowy shoulders. I was beautiful, I knew it, but I was afraid of it. Men would stare, undressing me and mentally caressing me. Women would stare, criticising me and belittling me. I didn’t carry myself with pride, I didn’t dress to embellish my body, I stumbled and shrank, I ignored and hid, I didn’t want to be aware. I wanted to be confident enough to not care and to be strong, but I wasn’t.

I'd never understood the expectations that were bestowed upon me, like a prize to be proud of. Public eyes made me curl into my shell, bury my actions to the back of the room and lose myself in the crowds, my eyes shielded by dark glasses and my ambitions hidden.

I'm not ungrateful, I just shy from paths already set, destinies foretold. I go out of my way to shock and fight the expected and I deliberately push through the fear and the warnings of the unexpected. I yearn for comfort and stability yet I wrapped my life in uncertainty, detachment and barriers.

I would travel, escaping down old cobbled streets, disappearing in to churches, exploring hidden doorways, markets and ruins. I would immerse myself in unknown surroundings, hiding from the fear of my own being, the cracks in old stone war-ridden walls mirroring my own self made cracks.

I travelled, I searched and then I found myself there, standing alone, full of fear and breathless with anticipation. The beautiful ocean stretched out beyond the bottom of the sky, the sun dropping behind the water’s endlessness. The beauty astounded, the peace flowed through me and life was about to start, I could feel it, I was ready for it and I wanted it.

I felt him before I saw him. I felt a shift, a change in the air, in the moment. He was walking along the sand without purpose and without care, his face full of life and living, a deepening in his skin from the saturation of sun, his cheeks shaped by the wisps of his unruly hair. I watched without thought, but intense with feelings inside me, deep inside me.

He looked up. He stopped. And we began.


Three weeks we lay in his house with nothing but our secrets and passions disturbing the stillness of that late summer month. Our limbs entwined, we were bound by our intensity and lost beyond our beliefs. We were in love, hard gentle crushing love.

The very thought of moving from our creation was too much, speaking it out loud would let reality take us away from our wants and our needs. We were in bliss, not ignorance. It was natural, like we had been forever and we would be forever.

We spoke of who we were and why we were. He widowed, his daughter travelling, his heart scarred. His intensity frightened me, but his passion consumed me, his love for his daughter like nothing I could grasp or feel. I was envious, to know of such love that outstripped such pain.

I’d look in to his eyes and see every vulnerability and need laid bare and I’d see his complete and utter love look back. A love I only ever felt once again after I lost his.

I felt insignificant next to this man, next to his emotions and next to the life he had already lived. He pushed me, urged me to talk, to tell of loves and lives gone by and passions that lay ahead. I felt bruised by honesty, but released from inner fears. I felt safe. I felt happy. It all made sense.
The phone rang. 

It rang again.

It was two in the morning.

It rang again.

I felt like I hadn't even blinked before he was gone, the door rattling against its hinges in the pre-dawn breeze, not even a glimmer of light to break through the long echoing empty darkness. He had left me without knowing he was leaving me, but there was no decision to make, he had to go. I understood and I grieved for him and his already shattered, broken heart.

A death of a child. There is no meaning, there is no sense. He would not cope, how could he. He would not want to live, why would he.

I returned home to start a new life. He was the reason and he was the cause for me to start again, nurturing what was new and building on what was old. If I had ever felt unsure or uncertain of who I was, if I had ever needed direction or meaning and if I had ever faltered in my own body and mind, then that had changed. He had changed it.

Now he stood in my doorway, all these years later. No warning, no time to prepare, no way to stop the inevitability of what was to come. I’m sure the questions were there, the whys and the why-nots flickering through my mind, but they weren’t important. Nothing else mattered in this second, this small fraction of time that would impact us forever. He was here, I could smell him, I could feel him and I could see inside him.  

From the corridor of shadows behind me my daughter stepped into the frozen moment and before a word or movement could prepare him, he looked into her eyes. He looked in to her eyes and he knew.

His daughter had been killed.
He had left and been lost.
Now our daughter stood before him. 

Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Baby Business: Week 29, Sugar and spice and all things nice

Training booked. Tick
Copywriting for new client launch material. Tick
New Intranet site tested for client. Tick
Nursery curtains being made (thanks Mum x). Tick

I don’t know what your thought are on this, but I have always wanted to know the sex of my baby and not because (as most of my friends and family think) I am a total control freak that has to have the nursery decorated and colour-coordinated outfits lined up in the wardrobe with the relevant pink or blue bunny painted on the front...

I wanted to know for the pure and simple reason that I have a little person growing inside of me and this little person is already having a major and overwhelming impact on my life, my future and every fibre of my being (and I am not exaggerating). I want to talk to her as well as give her a name and some sort of identity - no more 'it' from people in reference to a currently genderless baby-to-be, but a 'she' in relation to my little girl.

Wow. My little girl. Takes my breath away already.

I know not everyone shares my views about finding out the gender before birth - boy do I know! People have not been shy in expressing their views and opinions on the subject. From people I know to strangers in the supermarket, this is a subject that everyone seems to have an opinion about... The nurse taking my bloods was flabbergasted, "but where will the surprise be at the birth?" Errrrr, maybe a baby popping out of me? Besides, it can only go one of two ways!

My opinion - and I will share this with everyone (and have each time I am yet again being near scolded for my decision) - you do what you want to do! It’s not rocket science, but apparently out there with the likes of 'cloning' and 'genetic engineering'! Never really thought I was that controversial....

When I did find out that my bump was a little princess in waiting (of course!) everything suddenly turned pink. It’s not that I have anything against pink – I love pink, but there are a host of other colours out there... Working in a creative profession I am usually very imaginative, so when I set off to buy that special first item for my little girl what did I get? Pink tie-backs for the nursery! I know – pink! And why oh why did I buy tie-backs? Another symptom of pregnancy that you have to stay humorous about - lack of logical thought or reason!
On the ‘to do’ list:
Find mums-to-be swimming and yoga classes.
Apologise to my Mum for telling a waiter my chosen baby name and not her...
Buy even larger maternity jeans – have to cut out those Snickers!
Get up-to-date on the book keeping.

Monday, 20 October 2014

The Shadows Win

Thanks everyone who took part in my poll on what scared you at night when you were a child. It seems that your imagination often went into overdrive when the lights went out, but it was shadows that really got to most of you.

I am using these results in a book.... watch this space.

Thursday, 16 October 2014

Searching for a Syzygy

Today is (the unofficial) National Dictionary Day in honor of Noel Webster, who is considered the Father of the American Dictionary.

This (unofficial) national day marks a day to celebrate the importance of the dictionary and to improve vocabulary. So in honor of that, I have learnt a new word that not only sounds intriguing, it has a very intriguing meaning and it is the only English word with three Ys.

Syzygy: a rare astronomical event involving three heavenly bodies.

What new word will you learn today? Please share...

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

Different perceptions

I am always amazed by how one scene can be transformed a thousand times based on light and perception. This is three different ways that I viewed these mountians, which I sat and watched as the sun rose one morning.

Nature creates and nature was created, 
from the shards of early light 
to the fire and power of nature waking 
and filling the day with its beauty.
Zurgena, Spain, September 2014

Baby Business: Week 28, warning from bump

Client award entries written. Tick
Three new websites launched. Tick
New mobile campaign kicked off. Tick
Nursery curtain samples ordered. Tick

It always makes me chuckle when little children get overwrought from tiredness ... screaming and stomping. They point blank refuse to admit they are tired despite almost toppling over with tiredness ... my beautiful niece Katie Sue is very good at this (just like her Aunty V was!). I think the famed expression is 'over tired'. Well, it's official - bumps get this too and so do the mums-to-be! 

This week’s mission was to get the nursery-to-be cleared out ready for the decorator coming next week. Shouldn’t have been a major issue except for the fact the room has been a ("ah-hem") storage room for the last two years. It is amazing what you find stored under the guise of 'that will be useful one day' ... half a wardrobe? Really?

I moved the treasures-slash-junk and of course delegated all the heavy lifting and opted for folding curtains and blankets. Unfortunately, I had already spent the previous two days dashing around between meetings and working in the evenings on proposals and somewhere along the line I forgot to take a few minutes out to put my feet up and rest (my now enlarged) ankles... not quite baby-business balance!

As a self-titled superwomen (ha ha) I have always thought I am invincible, taking on anything and permanently on the go. No more - bump fights back! My little girl has literally put me in my place in the guise of jelly-legs, dizziness and a good kicking from within (may I introduce the new David Beckhamess to be).

I now find myself horizontal on the sofa with strict instruction not to move and to 'take it easy'. Don't get me wrong, I am all for a bit of self indulgence and pampering, with food (snickers!) and drink being brought to me, but it is not what I am used to (not being in control!), so it takes something pretty darn special to actually make me admit defeat and accept I am not 'all powerful'. That something? The very special swelling around my midriff... my gorgeous bump.

I am learning - there is nothing wrong for mums-to-be to take some time out for themselves. More importantly, we need to make the most of having the luxury of putting our feet up, because when little one arrives I have been well and truly assured that this is not an option. So I need to remember to take 5 minutes out to put my feet up, and do you know what? Shockingly, the world does not stop revolving... well there you go!

On the ‘to do’ list:
Get expandable baby-bump seatbelt.
Check out the gadget reviews on baby video monitors.
Ask friends if I really need a baby nasal aspirator?!
Order materials for next month’s business exhibition.

Sunday, 12 October 2014

Love letter to a library

Following a posting from Bookwitch earlier today (link to Bookwitch blog post) I was inspired to write my own love letter to my library...

My Dearest Library

You drew me in and I succumbed to the lure of your long runs of shelves crammed with books. The laughter from the story corner, at the end in the children’s section, set my little one off at a run. She wiggled herself in beside the others, all craning their necks to see the colourful pictures in the book of the day. The Librarian’s soft tones instilling anticipation and awe in to the audience around her, who sit up and stare.

I creep off in search of some me time, some indulgence in pages of well handled titles, with bends in their spines and creases on their covers. They may be worn, but bare life of readership and transportation, taking us off to places we’ve not been. In history or travel or fiction or biographies, from comics to games to films and CDs, I stroll around taking in what you offer, knowing I won’t leave without finding a reason to return to you next week.

You provide me with what I love and I love what you provide for me.

Yours every week,
V R Heal

The cover for Memories Made, Chapter One

So here it is, the cover for Chapter One of Memories Made.

Hopefully you read my post from Monday 6 October 'Will you write a novel with me?' (click on this link to see the post), well this is the cover for Chapter One (a short story in its own right).

Chapter One will be posted soon...

Posted Monday, 6 October 2014

Friday, 10 October 2014

Baby Business: Week 27, Bump Abroad

VAT return complete. Tick
Client  website development started. Tick
Upgrades to computer software. Tick
Paint colours picked for nursery. Tick

It’s not that I am a complete workaholic (I hear you sniggering friends), but I tend to find that a holiday is something that my body tells me I need, rather than something I excitedly plan months in advance. I usually get to the point that my head shouts ‘have a break, it’s time to re-charge the batteries’. I expect there are others of you like this, but probably most of you are thinking I am a bit odd... who wouldn’t want a holiday?! But remember, my life up until now has revolved around my original baby, my career.

Anyway, after much deliberation (a full two hours!) I came to the conclusion that a break would be a good thing and that this would actually be the very last time I would get a holiday that would centre totally around my needs... after that it will be baby first all the way (so let me be self-indulgent one last time!).

Quick search on (fab for last minute deals) and I’d booked a real bargain – 5 star the lot – leaving a week later. So here I find myself, horizontal on a sun lounger by a pool straight out of a magazine and peering over my sun-lotioned baby bump at the aqua blue waters of the ocean just metres away... why did I not think of this before!

Doh, my Snickers has melted...

It may be the scene of tranquillity now, but only after a marginally stressful start... How is it that I can easily make huge decisions about advertising campaigns and business marketing strategies for clients, but the minute I pack my suitcase ‘baby brain’ kicks in? Three times I left the house and three times I returned: 1) two miles down the road, “passport”; 2) end of drive, “I didn’t lock the back door”; and 3) at the motorway junction, “suitcase” – I had actually left it in the hall by the front door!

Finally on route to good old Gatwick and I get a text from my friend wishing me a lovely holiday ‘and isn’t it lucky I got this in whilst I am still allowed to fly’...  Yikes! How many weeks am I? When can I fly till? Seriously, we mums-to-be should be given a proper manual for all things related to pregnancy. We can’t be expected to know everything – for some of us this is our first time you know!

‘6 months’ is vaguely ringing a bell in the back of my mind... did I read that somewhere or was it on EastEnders? Ummmmmmm...

“Congratulations”, the lovely check in girl says, “how many weeks are you”?

“24”! (Shhhhhhhhhh, just in case.)

PS to mums-to-be: everyone loves a ‘bump’ abroad. Endless fussing and cooing.... imagine what they will be like with a real baby! So far I have had free sweets with my drinks (“for the bambino”), free ice cream after meals (“a treat for baby”) and, the best one, a free ‘Walt Disney’ non-alcoholic cocktail (“so baby doesn’t miss out”). I of course have been enjoying all these treats on behalf of my bump!

On the ‘to do’ list:
Confirm next midwife appointment.
Book tour of maternity unit.
Wean ‘bump’ off Snickers bars.
Prepare for London client pitches for next week.

Monday, 6 October 2014

Will you write a novel with me?

I’d like to write a novel with you. Yes, with you. The novel is called ‘Memories Made’ and I have written Chapter One, which I will be posting on my blog soon.

The next chapter, well all the remaining chapters, will be guided and influenced by you. I will post a short poll for you to select what you’d like to read about next in Chapter Two, along with asking for your comments for further input. I will then write Chapter Two based on the results of your poll and comments.

Are you game?

Friday, 3 October 2014

If your dreams don’t scare you...

....then they are not big enough.

I saw this saying posted on Facebook recently and it got me thinking, initially, and obviously, about myself and my dreams.... constantly freaking the living bejigawiggles out of me! But still, I soldier on in the disbelief that maybe, just maybe, I can do it. Well, dreams are dreams hey!

But then I got thinking about the saying from a child’s point of view.

There’s that time in a young child’s life where they move from dreams with no basis or foundation or experience to those where they have awareness of what is playing out in their heads as they slumber. The big bad wolf, the fairies in the wood, the cute little kittens, the dragon in the cave. From fluffy to frightening, their imagination and their daily learnings come in to a dreamality (not really a reality, but feels it none the less). 

So if their dreams don’t scare them, are they not dreaming big enough? I think that the bigger they are in life through imagination, adventure, exploration and learning, the more their dreams will impact them as they sleep. Good dreams, scary dreams... they are all a form of the individual child’s expression. So yes, they are dreaming big enough... they just aren’t quite big enough yet to understand all their dreams.

That’s where mums and dads come in....

Thursday, 2 October 2014

Scared of the dark?

I'm currently working on a new children's picture book and am doing some research. I've set up a little poll (on the right of this post) to find out what scared you in the dark when you were a child. Let me know...

Wednesday, 1 October 2014

A deserted photo

A month in the States last year (part of my research for 'George') saw me revisit a place that had inspired me almost a decade earlier - Joshua Tree National Park.

After the excitement of being in 'Roadrunner and Coyote' land (yes I saw both and have almost got over the surprise at how small Roadrunners are), I became captivated with the stark dry allure of the landscape, the scattered giant boulders and the peculiar beauty of the Joshua Trees themselves. The very large detour to revisit this place was worth every long dusty mile that we drove.

The desert is still: the Joshua Tree stands guard, the boulders stand strong and nature protects.
Joshua Tree National Park, California April 2013